How To Use Snapchat In Higher Education


Check out the previous installments of our series on Snapchat and higher education here. And here.

By now you’ve heard all of the hoopla. 77% of college students use it daily, and 30% of US millennials use it regularly. But why does Snapchat matter for higher education? In short, engagement.

But the messages disappear! It’s a waste of time, right? Not so fast. A recent Facebook study found millennial teens consume information at a rate 2.5 times faster than their older counterparts. Messages seen for even 3 seconds are more likely to be recalled in this demographic – if that message is compelling enough.

By its very nature, Snapchat is a sharing machine. Since the messages disappear, users have an incentive to screenshot the images and share them with their friends and family. If you create interesting enough content, odds are it will be shared organically.

Here are a few ways you can use the app to your advantage.

Showcase Your School

With the Stories feature, you can showcase the most exciting experiences your school has to offer and give prospective students a glimpse of the college lifestyle on your campus. Think big sporting events from tailgate to post game, traditions (homecoming, etc), move-in days, orientation events, and anything else that sets your school apart. You could even consider allowing select students to use the account to take viewers through a day in the life of a student.

UofArizona Snapchat shots.jpg

Add A Custom Design

Snapchat allows you to create your own design and submit it for approval as a “geofilter.” These filters can be used by any user on your campus for all their followers to see. You can upload your basic logo, or create a fun design for students to use.

catawba filter1

Get Creative

Tennessee Wesleyan College even hosted a scavenger hunt through the app for prospective students at an orientation day. Each student who followed the TWC account could view the 5 clues the school sent on the whereabouts of the school mascot.

Acceptance Notifications

At the end of the enrollment cycle, you can create more anticipation and excitement for your accepted students by sending them a Snap. If you have their handle, a personalized message could go a long way in increasing your push-to-deposit campaign results. While I’m sure your acceptance letter looks stunning, adding a Snap can make the acceptance process that much better.


Promote Contests and Events

Snapchat is also an effective promotional tool. Big event on campus? Add a Snap to your story to help promote it to your students. Classes cancelled? Let everyone know through a Snap. Weather warning? Snap it. You can even hold a contest.

BC Snapchat Contest.png

It’s instantaneous, personal, and mobile. It’s exactly where your audience lives. Get creative, send the right messages, and Snapchat can help your engagement numbers soar.

The Facts About Teens, Snapchat, and Higher Education Enrollment (continued)

Last week, we discussed a little of the history of Snapchat. As it turns out, teens are the main users of the app. When we left, we were just getting used to Snapchat. Now, we’re going to cover how to put together a Snapchat campaign.

Getting from here to there.

Before you get started snapping, think about your campaigns along these dimensions:

• Audience: whom will you be asking to follow you on Snapchat? Prospects will want different information than accepted students.

• Objectives: what do you want to achieve with this particular audience?

• Platform: how will you launch your Snapchat handle?

• Call to action: what will you use to entice your audience to friend you on Snapchat?

• Touchpoints: what is your content plan? How will you stay within your brand? Who will be snapping?

• Reward: what’s the big win for friending you?

Now that you have an audience and objectives, you need to decide how you will build your Snapchat friend list. Friend lists are normally driven by phone numbers in your phone. Upon installation, Snapchat looks through your contact list to find numbers that are registered with Snapchat. As an institution, you won’t have that luxury.

Lessons from McDonald’s

When McDonald’s decided to pursue a Snapchat campaign, they built their friend list by capitalizing on their robust social media network. Using their Facebook page as a platform, they enticed people to friend the restaurant chain with offers of exclusive content available only to Snapchat users.

McDonald’s then introduced a new hamburger, teasing the launch with multiple touchpoints with snaps from celebrities promoting the impending date. Then, McDonald’s ended the Snapchat campaign story with a request to follow them on Twitter.

Note how McDonald’s started. First, McDonald’s built their friend list from an existing social network. Your college is poised to do something similar. Use your current platforms to reach your audience. If you are using Snapchat as part of a student search campaign, consider including your Snapchat handle in your emails and landing pages.

The next lesson from McDonald’s is to develop a compelling call to action. McDonald’s took the ‘exclusive’ content route. Now, you don’t have to throw a million dollar concert with behind-the-scenes clips of Kanye West to get friends. The University of Kansas joined Snapchat and now uses it to give a glimpse of the Jayhawks between games – a treat that rabid KU fans likely devour.

If you use Snapchat as a part of a yield or acceptance campaign, you will find that students waiting for news will willingly friend you. That digital connection peels back the curtain of the acceptance process.

Do not forget to compensate your audience for connecting with you on Snapchat. Remember that McDonald’s did all this to tease the launch of a new hamburger. That is certainly not much of a gift. But getting a personal snap from LeBron James is. What will you provide?

In the retail world, stores offer coupons or swag for loyalty. Higher Education can provide similar perks: t-shirts, bags, and other prizes are all excellent rewards. But, remember your touchpoints – the snaps that you send to keep students engaged. What will your content be?

Tennessee Wesleyan College used Snapchat to create a scavenger hunt for prospective students during a visit day. During an Inquiry campaign, reward students with personal messages to make them feel like part of the family early on. When a student is still deciding, those snaps could make all of the difference.

Tying it all together.

To review, before you start a Snapchat campaign, you need some key components:

– Platform: all of your current social and traditional marketing tools can be leveraged to launch a Snapchat campaign.

– Call to action: in your communication, you need to give your audience a reason to friend you. Entice them with something that they can’t see anywhere else.

– Touchpoints: once you have students on Snapchat, you need to keep them engaged with the snaps that you will send out over the course of the campaign – your content plan.

– Reward: give your students a big win for being an early part of your community.

Putting a Bow on It

A campaign like this requires quite a bit of coordination. I recommend getting your team in a room to map out the entire process. Social networks can be visualized easily with index cards or sticky notes. It may sound a little analogue in an Internet age, but I’ve found that having the team together to map out the flow of content creates the best ideas.

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In today’s competitive higher education marketplace, prospective students are constantly bombarded with more and more marketing messages that simply don’t stick.

When developing your brand story, start with a brand promise that clearly and powerfully depicts who you are, what you stand for, and what sets you apart in a meaningful way. To be an effective pledge, your promise needs to be relevant, distinctive, and authentic. It should be realistic and aspirational, grounded in who you are now and who you aspire to become.

And, while having a beautifully integrated look and feel across all touchpoints is a great start, never forget that the real art of branding is in the promise keeping.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our TWG Plus Brand Camp, a FREE, ½ day workshop following CACRAO on December 11, 2013 at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC from 9 am -1 pm. V.P., Beatrice Szalas, and Research Director, Dr. James Vineburgh, will facilitate this interactive workshop in which you’ll assess the vitality of your brand, cover strategies, and gain access to tools to ensure that your brand is thriving.

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[Presentation] Social Media and Higher Education: The Next Steps

Today, Chris Tyburski is speaking at the Colorado Council.  He'll cover social media and higher education enrollment management.  Just in case you weren't  able to shoot over to Colorado this week, we'd thought we'd share it with you. You can watch and download it here.

Understanding your Social Snapshot

Social Snapshots serve as a baseline to help you establish a standing among peer institutions and measure any goals your institution has already agreed to. What?! Don't have one? Click here to order your own.

Keep in mind that this snapshot only provides information about one piece of the puzzle - Facebook. When you run an audit of your social media presence, you’ll want to take other tactics into account - Twitter or Pinterest, for example. You'll also want to take a look at your internal processes and procedures.

We've created a 7-Step Action Plan to grow and improve your social strategy through measuring performance.

  1.        Analyze what you have
  2.        Develop realistic goals
  3.        Develop strategy based on audience
  4.        Build audience
  5.        Test/refine content
  6.        Survey matriculants
  7.        Iterate

In today's post we are going to focus on step one, analyze what you have. Looking at your Social Snapshot (order one here, they're free so no excuses) we will introduce you to the key metrics as well as the story they are telling. Additionally we will reference ways to fix or improve what you have based on our industry-wide study on Facebook. Download the full report in this previous post.

Social Snapshot Key Metrics

While each metric will tell you more about the performance of your page, the first three you want to hone in on are Fans, Engagement per Fan, and Active Fan %, boxed in red above. The chart below is a guide based on enrollment size.

Social Snapshot ChartNow, let's look more in-depth on what these metrics really tell us.


Ultimately this is a measure of Reach, how many people have the potential to interact with your Facebook communications. If you find you are falling short in this area make sure you are integrating Facebook communications with your entire campaign, on- and off-line. Changing your content and frequency of posting can also enhance your Reach, but you must look at other metrics to determine how this change should take place.

Engagement per Fan

One of the most discussed metrics in our industry, but the calculation varies somewhat depending on the source. Here we are looking at the number of comments, likes, comment likes, and wall posts divided by the Fan count of the page. Simply put this is the average number of times a Fan interacts with your page in a year. In order to improve this you must produce content your audience will react to. Look at what posts are getting the most responses and adjust your content strategy around them. Also asking questions or specifically asking for a response can increase a post's engagement.

Active Fan %

Personally I find this to be one of the most telling social metrics in our industry, however it is widely underused. This tells us how many of your Fans have interacted with your page over the past year. It varies slightly depending on your school's size, but most institutions should be getting about a third of their audience to interact with them. In order to make the best strategic changes, you must also look at the demographic makeup of your Facebook page as well as the overall character and personality of your school.

I often see institutions with a very high Engagement per Fan and a low Active Fan %. This means the page has a relatively small number of people interacting a lot. Usually this happens when the strategist finds a topic that gets a high response and stays inside that topic without expanding to topics other audience members would respond to. While it is important to maintain a high engagement, a social strategy must account for the entire audience they are reaching. Just as a diverse campus builds a strong institution a diverse Fan page creates a healthy and well-rounded experience.

Look for my next post to learn more! Also, please sign-up for our newsfeed in order to receive more information on Social Media and Higher Education Marketing.